Exhuming Franco, impeachment disruption, peace pollen

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels. Secretary general Jens Stoltenberg says the fight against ISIS “is not over” and that the extremist group will be a major topic at the two-day summit. Other issues up for discussion include Syria, Afghanistan, and 5G security.  

Francisco Franco is exhumed. The remains of the Spanish dictator, which have lain in a marked grave in the monumental Valley of the Fallen since his death in 1975, will finally be dug up and reinterred in a less showy family mausoleum near Madrid.

Mike Pence speaks on China. Analysts expect the US vice president, known for his hawkish tone on Beijing, to act as a “bad cop” on issues like religious freedom and human rights, while letting his boss play the “good cop” in trying to clinch a trade deal.

While you were sleeping

Carlos Ghosn accused Japanese prosecutors of misconduct. The disgraced former Nissan chairman urged a Tokyo court to dismiss all charges against him, alleging officials had colluded with executives at the automaker.

Japan’s and South Korea’s economies slowed more than expected. Manufacturing activity in Japan shrank at its fastest pace (paywall) in more than three years, while South Korea’s third-quarter GDP growth was below analyst forecasts, as both countries continue to feel the effects of a global slowdown.

House Republicans disrupted an impeachment inquiry hearing. The lawmakers barged into a closed-door meeting where a Pentagon official was due to testify, delaying a crucial deposition related to US president Donald Trump’s alleged quid-pro-quo request for Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden.

Tesla shares soared. A surprise profit of $143 million in its third-quarter earnings report sent the electric carmaker’s stock price shooting up some 20% in after-hours trading. The company said it was ahead of schedule with a new factory in Shanghai.

US lawmakers confronted Mark Zuckerberg. Politicians from both parties grilled the Facebook CEO over a wide range of issues including lies in political ads, and Libra, noting fears the cryptocurrency could roil financial systems.


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The world can’t wait to rid itself of the need for coal. Without drastic cuts, there’s little chance of hitting emission targets and avoiding the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Mining coal and then burning it also produces other toxins, polluting our air, water, and soil. But what exactly makes coal so dirty?

Quartz Obsession

Rubber ducks: The world is awfully fond of them. They were the foundation of Hong Kong’s immense plastic toy industry; they’ve been used to track ocean currents and glaciers; they’re a protest symbol and a pop-art icon all over the world. And, of course, they make bathtime lots of fun. Give the subject a squeeze at the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of debate

The world needs more statues of women. The lack of representation has real effects.

School lunches should have assigned seating. It helps break up cliques and unhealthy social hierarchies.

The rural-uban divide is the most important factor in politics.

And bridging it is

the political conundrum of our times


Surprising discoveries

Rats find driving tiny cars relaxing. Learning to maneuver the mini robot cars lowered the rodents’ stress levels.

A Chinese binge-drinker has gone viral. He downed a pint of beer, a can of Pepsi, a huge glass of flaming spirits, and a raw egg in eight seconds.

The stethoscope faces obsolescence. It’s becoming less relevant with the spread of handheld devices featuring AI and app connectivity.

Butterflies are just moths who wanted to change their careers. Moths evolved to spread wings not only to escape nocturnal bats, but also to eat nectar, which is more abundant during the daytime.

Violence goes down when pollen is high. Increased levels of pollen, resulting in allergies, can make violent crimes decline around 4%.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tiny drivers, and vintage stethoscopes to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Mary Hui and edited by Tripti Lahiri.